Helping Gainsight Develop High Performing Leaders and Teams in India and in the U.S.

About the Client

Gainsight is a VC-backed software company in the Customer Success industry. Their software helps businesses build deep and lasting relationships with customers that results in less churn, increased visibility, and improved product adoption.

The Situation

Founded in 2009, the organization had grown in complexity over the years.

At the beginning of our engagement, Gainsight was experiencing rapid market share growth, growing sophistication of the product, and a significant number of new employees and leaders in its high-tech, high-performance, geographically-dispersed environment. 

At this inflection point, Gainsight wanted its executives and managers to cultivate the core leadership behaviors necessary to help it fulfill its purpose, which is “to be living proof that you can win in business while being human first.” 

In particular, Gainsight wanted to improve how its leaders: 

  • Develop teams to achieve goals and continuously learn and improve 
  • Develop individual teammates in ways that connect to the business needs of the team 
  • Coach and facilitate for better problem-solving in team meetings and 1:1s

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Selected Us

Carol Mahoney, Chief People Officer, and Yael Malek, Director of Learning and Development, wanted to work with a partner who could help them develop a leadership program with a meaningful, sustained impact on the organization.

Other vendors that they met with provided off-the-shelf solutions that had little room for modifications. Their content also was lacking in the team development skill set. 

Given Gainsight’s strong emphasis on values, purpose and culture, Mahoney and Malek felt that the organization's leadership program had to:

  • embed the company’s unique culture within a best-in-class training format
  • have flexibility in the “what” and the “how” to meet the needs of its working managers
  • Include a strong emphasis on team performance coaching

For this reason, they selected us as their L&D partner. 

The Approach

In consultation with Carol Mahoney, Chief People Officer, and Yael Malek, Director of Learning and Development, we co-designed and implemented a program designed with behavioral science components to help leaders quickly and easily grasp performance coaching, facilitation, psychological safety, and business agility skills. 

Learning Design: The practice design of Human First Leadership is solidly built on the foundation of key insights within adult learning pedagogy. Those include: 

  • Peer group learning and peer coaching:
  • Specific “quests” to apply learning to real-world business issues
  • Follow-up sessions for ongoing coaching and guidance

Content Framework: The content framework of Human First Leadership is based on positive psychology coaching, team performance coaching, and business agility. 

  • Module 1 - Grow as a “Human First Leader” 
This module trains leaders to adopt positive psychology coaching behaviors in 1:1s and team meetings. It also trains leaders how to shift into a responsive mode when in a reactive triggered place. 
  • Module 2 – Grow as a “Human First Team” 
This module trains leaders in facilitation techniques to help their teams diverge and converge well in meetings, as build inclusive meeting practices and create a culture of belonging. It also trains leaders how to help their teams identify areas of improvement and coach their teams along an improvement journey. 
  • Module 3 – Accelerate Business Goals in 1:1s and Team Meetings
This module trains leaders in business agility techniques to use with their teams and teammates when it comes to goal planning, goal coaching, and goal retrospectives. 
  • Grow and Tell Session: At the end of the 5-month journey, leaders are asked to reflect on their progress, using qualitative and quantitative data, in the form of a presentation in front of their peers. 

Customization: In order to meet the business needs of creating an integrated leadership value system:

  • We customized the language throughout the program to align with company values. 
  • We also designed the program with its own logo, graphics, and aesthetics so that it feels integral to the culture. 
  • We also designed with a train-the-trainer approach so that graduates co-facilitate the program in future iterations

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The Results

To date, the program has succeeded in its goal to equip leaders to lead teams that are more connected and committed to their work, as well perform at their best within an ambitious work culture. 

The program: 

  • has an average NPS of 9.1 across 6 cohorts (including a Train-the-Trainer cohort).
  • scores above a “4” on a 5-point scale across 6 cohorts in the following dimensions: 
- Relevance to My Job
- Important to My Success as a Leader
- Ability to Apply Concepts to Improve My Team’s Performance
- Feel Supported By My Peers
- Helpful Instructors
- Helpful Materials 

The program is also credited with increasing engagement scores by 12 points within their Indian division, a division where all leaders participated.

Moving forward, the program is now led by the alumni leaders themselves. Most importantly, the Human First Leadership practices are regularly used by HRBPs and leaders at all levels to improve real work in a real work business context. 

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